Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SchoolHouse Rock

Matt Yglesias on how a bill becomes a law (starting from the current point in health care legislation):

  1. Senate Finance Committee writes a bill.
  2. Finance bill is reconciled with HELP bill.
  3. Reconciled Senate bill passes full Senate.
  4. House Rules Committee reconciles the slightly different versions of the House bill.
  5. Reconciled House bill passes full House.
  6. Conference Committee reconciles House and Senate bills.
  7. House passes conference report.
  8. Senate passes conference report.
  9. President signs bill.

Right now, the most important thing is to get through steps (1), (2), (3), (4), and (5). At the moment it appears that you can’t do (4) and (5) without a public option. It also appears that you can’t do (1), (2), or (3) with a public option. And that’s all just fine since this is what step (6) on the process is there for. At step (6) the appropriate thing to do is to press for a conference report that includes a public option. If progressives win that fight, then step (7) should be easy and there’ll be a tough fight over step (8). If progressives lose that fight, which I think may well happen, then I really do think it would be time to give up on the public option. I think it would be silly for the House of Representatives to vote “no” on a basically good health reform package merely because it didn’t include a public option.

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